Running Man loses two more cast members, plans reset with Kang Ho-dong
Song Ji-hyo, Kim Jong-kook
Perhaps the writing was already on the wall with the departure of Kang Gary last month, but now it looks like SBS’s Sunday night variety standby Running Man may be coming to an end, at least in the format that we’ve come to know and love. It has been confirmed that two more cast members will be leaving the show: Actress Song Ji-hyo (This Week, My Wife Will Have an Affair) and singer Kim Jong-kook will say goodbye to the series at the end of this year, and in their wake, producers are planning to overhaul the show’s concept and relaunch with a Season 2 in 2017. The biggest change will be in potential new member Kang Ho-dong (A Hyung I Know), who is currently in talks to join the cast.
The remaining members of Running Man—Yoo Jae-suk, Haha, Lee Kwang-soo, and Ji Suk-jin—will stay on, and there’s talk of looking for more people to join the second season. Yoo Jae-suk and Kang Ho-dong haven’t shared a show since X-Man (2003-2007), which a good portion of the Running Man staff also worked on, so there’s a certain level of curiosity and interest in their reunion alone.
Yoo Jae-suk, Kang Ho-dong
Haha, Lee Kwang-soo, Ji Suk-jin
But it’s usually not a good sign when a show gets a facelift and attempts to hang on to former glory, though I’d argue that Running Man already lost its sheen a long time ago. Ratings that used to be in the teens have been down to the 6% range lately, and though I was one of those faithful viewers who’d seen every episode from the start, I stopped watching it altogether at the beginning of 2016.
Even though I haven’t checked back with the show in a while, it still makes me sad to think of a Running Man without the Monday Couple and Spartakooks; but seven years is a long time to be part of a weekly variety show. There’s no telling what the second season will look like (will there even be any running?), but I’ll at least tune in to say goodbye to the version of Running Man that I remember fondly.
Song Ji-hyo and Kim Jong-kook will shoot their last episode of Running Man on December 19, and Season 2 will begin in 2017.
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